The big spring rollout of smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, and the upcoming LG G3 has pushed tablets to the wayside, but a lack of high profile launches in recent months does not mean a lack of quality options to choose from. In fact, May kicked off with the launch of Samsung’s latest lineup of Galaxy Tabs, which is where we begin our list.
5 — Samsung Galaxy Tab 4
New to our list is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, which only started appearing on store shelves as of the first of the month. Available in 7, 8, and 10.1-inch versions, the Tab 4 makes up for a lack of top-tier specs with pricing that begins at $199. These are midrange tablets with 720p displays, but they score points for their lightweight and portable design. The new Tab 4 series makes our list partly based on the reputation of Samsung’s previous releases, but more because they promise a solid experience for those looking for a cheaper pathway to a secondary device.
4 — Nexus 7 2013
With Google I/O right around the corner, there is hope we might see a new Nexus Tablet in the near future. For now, for those looking for a pure Android slate at an undeniable price, the Nexus 7 is the ticket. Aging internals like a Snapdragon S4 processor have the N7 feeling a little long in the tooth, but its $230 price tag still nets buyers a solid HD display and access to Android updates about as quickly as Google can make them available.
3 — Kindle Fire HDX
The Kindle Fire HDX is about as far from a traditional Android tablet as anything on our list, but despite this fact it simply offers too much for its low price to not make our top five. While Amazon has chosen to build what amounts to a completely different operating system using the framework of Android, operating outside of Google’s standard version line, users can still expect a full-fledged tablet experience. The Kindle Fire HDX is available in both 7-inch and 8.9-inch variants featuring hi-def displays and retails for a price starting at $230. If mainlining Amazon’s library of digital content is your thing, this might be the tablet for you.
If you are looking for a premium tablet with a true premium feel, the Xperia Z2 should be the first option you consider. This tablet mixes top-notch hardware with a sleek, modern design that only Sony could pull off. A blazing Snapdragon 801 processor is married with a solid 8.1MP camera and 1080p display, all within a package that measures a mere 6.1mm thick. The kicker? The whole thing is waterproof. You could use it in the shower, if you want (but we aren’t recommending it). How cool is that?
1 — Samsung Galaxy NotePro
The Galaxy NotePro hangs on to the top spot this month, and that shouldn’t be unexpected. No other manufacturer has been audacious enough to release such a power-packed tablet, which includes a 12.2-inch 2560×1600 display, 3GB RAM, and 8MP camera. The NotePro also takes advantage of the included S Pen stylus to make it a superior productivity tool. Our top choice is far from the several affordable tablets that grace this list. Its retail pricing starts around $700.
- LG G Pad 8.3 — Decently affordable and readily portable with its 8.3-inch display, the G Pad 8.3 is worth a look, especially with multiple US carriers offering the device and the availability of a Google Play Edition.
- Lenovo Yoga 10 HD+ — Mixes midrange and top-tier specs with a unique design featuring a built-in kickstand, the newly available Yoga 10 HD+ doesn’t offer quite enough to crack the top five. Still worth consideration for those looking for a tablet that sits slightly outside the box.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition — A slew of newer tablets threaten the Note 10.1 2014 Edition’s place in Samsung’s lineup, but unless you want to drop the big bucks on the TabPro, those looking for the benefit of dedicated stylus input will want to check out this cheaper alternative.
- Samsung Galaxy TabPro — The new Galaxy Tab 4 series boasts affordability, but the TabPro goes for full-fledged performance. More expensive as an option, but added benefits like a full HD display boost its case.
- Amazon Kindle Fire HD — This is no Kindle Fire HDX, but Amazon’s 7-inch tablet sells for only $140 and comes with access to a plethora of content from the online retailer.
Tablets to look forward to
With Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 series already available and few announcements in regards to new slates from major competitors, there are few tablets on the horizon that jump to mind immediately. There is, however, the hope that Google will provide a Nexus tablet lineup refresh at Google I/O, which will take place in late June. Rumored possibilities include a revamped Nexus 7, a proposed Nexus 8, and the long-awaited refresh of the Nexus 10, which could be a joint production between Google and HTC. We have little to go off of in terms of specs, however.
It is unclear if the Android Silver program, a partnership between Google and device manufacturers that would replace the Nexus line of smartphones, will affect the future of Nexus tablets. It seems likely that the tech giant has at least one more round of updates slates in store for us.
What say you?
While Android tablets have been playing second fiddle to major handset releases in recent months, this is no knock on the number of quality slates currently available. We’ve given you our picks, now we want to know yours. Did we leave your favorite tablet out? Did we get the rankings all wrong? Let us know in the comments below!